Thursday, May 27, 2004

The state of Vermont is now under the threat of Wal-Mart and other big-box retailers. Known predominantly for its historic villages, quaint small towns and splendid autumn colors, Vermont was the last state in the country to get a Wal-Mart. Today, it is considered by the National Trust for Historic Preservation as one of America's most endangered historic sites.

America's 11 Most Endangered Historic Places for 2004

Tuesday, May 25, 2004

Origins of Place Names in Los Angeles County

ALTADENA - Literally means "Upper Dena," referring to its location relative to Pasadena. The name was applied in 1887.

ATWATER VILLAGE - Named for early resident Harriet Atwater Paramore.

BEL AIR - Named for developer Alfonso Bell.

BOYLE HEIGHTS - Named for founder Andrew Boyle.

BURBANK - Named after a New Hampshire dentist, Dr. David Burbank, who purchased the land in 1867 and, for 16 years, operated a sheep ranch here.

CENTURY CITY - Named for 20th Century Fox Motion Picture Company.

COMPTON - Originally a railroad station along the Los Angeles-San Pedro line. It was named after Griffith D. Compton, founder of the Methodist Temperance Colony on Rancho Dominguez and one the founders of USC.

EAGLE ROCK - Named for the prominent sandstone rock in the area that resembles an eagle in flight.

EXPOSITION PARK - Originally known as Agricultural Park, the park was renamed in 1910 when it was planned to rededicate it as a State/County/City Park featuring a state Exposition Building, National Guard Armory, and county history and art museum.

FIGUEROA - Named for Jose Figueroa, a governor of California under Mexico.

GRIFFITH PARK - Named in 1896 by the City of Los Angeles for Griffith J. Griffith, donor of the land for the park. The observatory was also named in 1932 for Griffith who left funds for its construction.

HAWTHORNE - It was named for Nathaniel Hawthorne, the American novelist.

LOS FELIZ - Named for the land grant owned by Jose Feliz.

MALIBU - The Indian name Umalibu (probably Chumash) was given to an Indian rancheria. The present spelling first appeared in 1805 for the land grant Topanga Malibu Sequit. The name underwent a series of changes over the years--Maligo (1827), Malago (1851), Malico (1860), and Malaga. The name Malibu was restored to the area in 1881.

OLVERA STREET - Named for Augustin Olvera, a Mexican resident and later first County Judge and first County Administrator under U.S. rule.

PANORAMA CITY - Named for the former Panorama Dairy and Sheep Ranch that had once been at the location.

PASADENA - The current name, credited to Dr. Thomas B. Elliot of the San Gabriel Orange Grove Association, is derived from a Chippewa word that loosely translates as “valley.”

PICO - Named for Pio Pico, last governor of Mexican California.

SAN PEDRO - In October 1542, Spanish explorer Juan Cabrillo originally named the location "Bahia de los Fumos" (Bay of Smokes). It was later named after Saint Peter, patron saint of fishermen.

SANTA MONICA - Named by the Gaspar de Portola expedition upon their arrival there in 1770 on the feast day of Saint Monica, mother of Saint Augustine.

SHERMAN OAKS - Named for developer Moses Sherman.

SILVERLAKE - Named from Herman Silver, a member of the first Los Angeles Board of Water Commissioners.

STUDIO CITY - Named for Mack Sennett’s Republic Studios opened in the community during the 1920s.

TARZANA - Named after famous fictional character "Tarzan" after Edgar Rice Burroughs purchased the local Otis Estate in 1917. The local post office was given the name in 1931.

TOPANGA - Indian name referring to "above place" or even sky or heaven. May refer to Indian village site located above Topanga Creek.

TORRANCE - Planned as a model city by Frederick Law Olmsted, the great landscape architect, and named in 1911 by landowner Jared S. Torrance, a financier and philanthropist.

UNIVERSAL CITY - A local post office was opened on the site in 1915 and named after the Universal Pictures Company that had been organized that same year.

VAN NUYS - The local post office was named for Isaac N. Van Nuys, son-in-law of Isaac Lankershim. They were the first to successfully cultivate wheat on a large scale in Southern California.

WESTWOOD - Once known as Sunset City, a failed development, it received its current name in 1929.

WILSHIRE - Named for entrepreneur, socialist, and developer H. Gaylord Wilshire.

LOS ANGELES - The name Los Angeles comes from the name given to what is now the Los Angeles River by the Gaspar de Portola expedition that camped on its banks in 1769. The river was named by the Spaniards El Rio Nuestra Senora la Reina de los Angeles de Porciuncula (The River of Our Lady the Queen of the Angels of Porciuncula). Twelve years later, Spanish California’s military governor, Felipe de Neve, founded a new settlement on that campsite near the river and named it El Pueblo de la Reyna de los Angeles (The Town of the Queen of the Angels). The name was eventually shortened to Los Angeles.

Los Angeles Almanac

Monday, May 17, 2004

I had amassed a collection of glass bottles over the past two semesters. It was at first mantle decoration, a display of all the different alcohols and beverages that I have consumed. But lately it had become more of an eyesore than anything else. So today, I decided to turn them in.

Eric and I drove around my place, looking for homeless bums. I wanted to give the bottles over to these recycling folks rather than just throw them down the chute. At least it will have some positive spin-offs.

I usually spot these bums, or what we called "the people in abject poverty", around Wilshire and Hoover Blvd. There are always a few of the homeless, sleeping on the sidewalk. But the recycling workers, the bums pushing around carts that contains junk are more finicky. They either congregate at the beginning of the evening peak hours, or a solitary member would be prowling the streets in the dead of the night. Perhaps there is a union regulation regarding such activities.

Tonight, driving around La Fayette Park at 9.30pm, there were no recycling bums to be found. It only happens in LA. When you are not looking for them, they are everywhere, but when you really need the bums, they are nowhere to be found.

Saturday, May 15, 2004


Gas prices in California and probably Los Angeles are the highest in the entire country. With the Middle East debacle still having no end in sight, and OPEC deciding to maintain strict control over gas output, prices of crude oil at the NYSE has hit record high.

Gas prices hit a national average of US$1.94 per gallon, but in California, the nearby Mobil station I go to charges $2.49 per gallon for the regular. And with this being the start of the summer months, gas prices are bound to stay in that range. (I still remember the days when I pay only $1.69 per gallon, almost two years ago.)

But on hindsight, prices today does not appear too staggering. In the early 1970s, gas prices, adjusted for inflation, hit $3 per gallon at their peak.

And in Europe, where they call it petrol, people pay $5 per gallon to drive small "Hummer-fodder" European cars.

One good thing that is coming out of all this money woes is that we may be seeing less of the Hummer on the street. And for that, I am willing to pay more for my gas (and do more carpooling).

The New York Times > Week in Review > Tipping Points: At $2 a Gallon, Gas Is Still Worth Guzzling

Thursday, May 13, 2004

The most freaking exciting basketball game. 2 shots in the last 0.4 sec of the last quarter. LA Lakers now lead SA Spurs 3-2.

Sitting in front of the TV set, i also found out that Amber is the ultimate survivor, and LaToya London is no longer an American Idol. After saying goodbye to some Friends, I will also bid farewell to Frasier and his gang. And besides the atrocities of war in the Middle East, the most scary character in public consciousness is that of Trish from The Bachelor.

With a TV set in my room, I no longer need to step out of the house to know the world.

Monday, May 10, 2004

i'm finally done with my last final this evening. its had been a rougher semester than usual, but looks like things aren't that bad after all. can only look forward to a long (boring) summer ahead.

oh btw, i won an Elephant DVD today. Haven't won anything for a long time now. it feels all so good...

Sunday, May 09, 2004

The Parallels between the Bush Administration and the Police-State of Singapore

"Postcolonial governments are inclined, with some predictability, to generate narratives of national crisis, driven perhaps - the generous explanation - to reenact periodically the state's traumatic if also liberating separation from colonial authority, a moment catachrestically founding the nation itself qua nation. Typically, however, such narratives of crisis serve more than one category of reassurance: by repeatedly focusing anxiety on the fragility of the new nation, its ostensible vulnerability to every kind of exigency, the state's originating agency is periodically reinvoked and ratified, its access to wide-ranging instruments of power in the service of national protection continually consolidated. "
- Heng and Devan, "State Fatherhood: The Politics of Nationalism, Sexuality, and Race in Singapore"

Time and again, we are reminded of racial riots, political anarchy and economic downturns in Singapore's history by our well-read ruling government. They are statements of alert and forceful reminders displaced in a distant past, retrospectively assuring us of our current contentment. Indeed history has been most useful in making us aware of past mistakes, and advocates a non-repeat of failed historical moments. But then again, history always repeats itself. Today, Bush is trying to salvage a military abuse fiasco that is reminiscent of My Lai in Vietnam and the incursions in Cambodia. Obviously Bush knows his history. Knowing history can only go so far as elucidating present conditions. What is more pertinent are the actions that we do today.

In clamoring on the tragedies of Singapore's past, the PAP government does not ensure that mistakes will not be repeated, but only strengthens a state-endorsed ideology fraught with intimidations and threats. It is a police state that stifles individual agency, behaving like the disciplinarian of a nursery, deciding on moral standards and behavioral patterns.

Just as the government tries to re-orchestrate with lukewarm response to the biological reproduction campaigns, in light of the miserable failure of and sociologically appalling Great Marriage Debate of the 1980s, history does seem to repeat itself again. What the country need is more discerning citizens, able to make decisions for themselves and evaluate present situations. Re-emphasizing the chaos of the past only leads to a heightened ineptitude in local citizens to participate in political decision-making. Singapore is a police-state, just as Bush is putting a cap on civil liberties under the pretext of a "war" on terrorism and the axis of evil.

The axis of evil in Singapore appears to be the ability for local residents to think. Now that the senior Lee is out of the limelight, the future government needs to rethink its own stance on ideological propaganda and public coercion. It has to re-examine its own history, and gives people today their own decision-making capabilities. The continuous threat of global competition or racial disharmony can only go so far in creating a homogenous population.

Singapore is no longer a fantasy playground for Lee Kuan Yew to re-enact his patriarchal beliefs on unsuspecting children. Issues of deregulation and the removal of censorship must be addressed immediately and rapidly. No longer do we want to hear the civil servant refrains that Singaporeans are not ready for change. With the western-educated, English-speaking elites that have been luxuriating uncontested in the government for years, how representative are their views on Singaporeans. When politicians are chosen unopposed into the parliament, how democratic can their views be? And when bringing up the need for conservatism in light of Asian values, can someone explain what these nebulous Asian values exactly are? Probably no two persons can describe these Asian beliefs as monolithically similar. It is apparent that the PAP government defines its own Asian values, using it whenever it finds it advantageous.

This is a time of globalization and a flow of capital, people and ideas. Singapore does not exist in a social vacuum dictated by the government. It is a matter of survival for the government to move with the times and update itself, or risk being another sad story in the historical annals, used by future dictators for inducing fear.

Sunday, May 02, 2004

"Our institutions and our sensibilities, in other words, are organized around an extreme distaste for the kind of private, retail justice our movies delight in dispensing. In spite of our trigger-happy reputation, we are more likely to sue than to shoot. There have been places and times in our history when vendettas, duels and blood feuds have flourished, but for the most part these practices were part of the feudal inheritance left behind in the old countries. Instead, we erected laws, bureaucratic procedures and various other forms of mediation. The classic western, from James Fenimore Cooper to John Ford, is about the triumph of those moderating, modernizing forces over archaic codes and customs..."

The New York Times > Movies > Vengeance Is Ours, Says Hollywood

Saturday, May 01, 2004

My Friendster profile (version 2)

Occupation: repairing broken futon beds
Hometown: on the internet

Interests: shooing pigeons off balconies, making wide U-turns, looking into people's homes, flushing unflushed urinals, walking fast
Affiliations: Devry University's career guidance service, the lady on the BOA hotline, the guys at Jiffy Lube (you are the best!)
Companies: Rotorooter, DMV, AAA, AA, credit check bureau, rent.com leasing office
Schools: South LA Driving School (1998-9, 2001)

Favorite Music: elevator music, the sound of the 405 freeway, the beep from my mircowave, the sound a cat makes when it is hungry
Favorite Books: Martha Stewart Living, Yellow Pages, my parents' check book
Favorite TV shows: HSN's jewelery hour, HSN's collector's coin hour, weeknight car chases on KTLA5
Favorite Movies: Showtime's If These Walls Could Talk, Law and Order TV marathon, Yentl

About Me: I am a simple guy with a big heart. Ever since being kicked out of my parents' home, I have been gaining more self-confidence and independence. My credit history has improved and I even bought the couch I am sleeping on with cash. In my free time, I like looking for half-empty beer bottles and unextinguished cigratte butts off the sidewalk. I also enjoy time with friends and strangers (mainly strangers). A good time for me is to have fun with people that do not have restraining orders, laughing and crying (I am in touch with my emotions), and catching the bus home. I also like hanging out at the liquor store down the street and driving my parents' car down the 405, when they are away on holiday.

Who I Want to Meet: I want to meet someone funny and intelligent. Someone who is patient with me, and enjoy cutting my hair, tidying up my room and bringing out the trash. Someone who has no airs about her and doesn't mind sleeping on the ground, and preferably has a TV set.

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